FTSE 100 powers to five-year high
London's FTSE 100 Index has powered to a five-year high as better-than-expected United States jobs figures sent world markets to more big gains.
Official figures showed the US added 236,000 jobs in February, cutting the unemployment rate to 7.7% last month - the lowest level in four years.
The FTSE 100 jumped 0.7% or 43.7 points to 6482.9, while across Europe the Dax in Germany rose 0.8% and France's Cac 40 surged 1.3%.
Markets were also buoyed by Chinese trade figures, with export growth in February beating forecasts and boosting hopes for global growth, as strong activity in China is beneficial for economies worldwide.
Britain's blue-chip share index is now trading at its highest level since the end of 2007 having rallied strongly since the start of the year, with banks and financial stocks among those benefiting from the gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wall Street has enjoyed a bumper start to the year, closing at all-time record highs this week.
Shavaz Dhalla, trader at Spreadex, said: "Today's data is a reminder that the markets are now not solely underpinned by optimism, but instead there is now a series of good data from the global economy to brighten up the picture for the global economic outlook."
The jobs data is an encouraging sign for the world's biggest economy, with increased hiring by companies showing businesses are confident, despite higher taxes and government spending cuts. Hiring has averaged more than 200,000 a month since November, with the US seeing the best construction hiring in six years last month.
Strong motor sales and a steady housing recovery are spurring on employment, which could lead to stronger economic growth. But the data showed employers added fewer jobs in January than first estimated, with figures revised down to 119,000 from an initially reported 157,000.
There are also fears that the US jobs market may start to falter after recent tax hikes followed by across-the-board government spending cuts, which kicked in on March 1. However, the impact is partly being offset by higher pay as wages have risen 2.1% in the past year, which is ahead of inflation.